Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Rumors of Death


Mark Twain famously said, "Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated." In a week when Christians are reflecting on death and resurrection, I find myself thinking sadly of the death of parishes and wondering what lies ahead. We close parishes and a faith community is scattered. Do people find the same kind of support for their faith elsewhere? or do they join the current drift away from organized religion? or does something new arise?
I was heartened by a remarkable bit of family history in the current issue of "America." The 18th century philosopher Voltaire predicted, "One hundered years from my day there will not be a Bible on the earth except one that is looked upon by an antiquarian curiosity seeker." In 1881, just over 100 years after Voltaire's death, his great grandniece gave birth to a son, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a paleontologist and very influential theologian, who is much quoted in by religious people today. His notion of God as the "milieu" in which we live and breathe has had a profound influence on my life and on my relationship with God.
In the 1960's de Chardin's writings were so suspect that at a Catholic seminary book fair his books were sold under the table. Now he is a shining light to any spiritual searcher. One of my favorite quotes of his: "By virtue of creation and even more of the incarnation, there is nothing profane for those who know how to see."
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